From Comcast SportsNetNEW YORK (AP) -- First flying bugs, now a flying bat.When it comes to the postseason, Joba Chamberlain is jinxed.The Yankees hope their season isn't, too.Chamberlain was knocked out of Game 4 of the AL division series on Thursday night when the barrel of Matt Wieters' broken bat hit him on the right elbow in the 12th inning. The Baltimore Orioles went on to a 2-1 victory that forced a decisive Game 5 on Friday night, getting the go-ahead run when Manny Machado doubled against David Phelps leading off the 13th and scored on J.J. Hardy's RBI double."I don't know if I'd hang out with me very much. I might need a bubble," Chamberlain said.He might not be the only one.On another Bronx night filled with controversy, Alex Rodriguez was pinch hit for once again. Eric Chavez batted in place of slumping A-Rod and ended the game with a lineout to third off Jim Johnson."I just do what I'm told," Chavez said. "It's kind of crazy."Now it's up to CC Sabathia to show he's an ace, taking the mound Friday night against Jason Hammel in a rematch of Game 1 starters."It's time to go," Sabathia said. "This is a one-game playoff, and this is what we play for. We're here in the Bronx at home, and like I said, I'll be excited and ready to go."New York outlasted Baltimore for the AL East title last week. Now the Yankees will try to do it again and advance to the AL championship series against Detroit."It's the same game whether it's the first game of the season or the postseason," said Derek Jeter, who shifted to designated hitter because of a sore left foot. "We're going to try to have fun with it, enjoy it."New York had runners on base in each of the first eight innings, but the Yankees went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position and dropped to 6 for 28 (.214) in the series.A-Rod, 2 for 16 (.125) with no RBIs and nine strikeouts, fanned against side-arming right-hander Darren O'Day with runners on second and third and one out in the eighth. Nick Swisher then flied out."It's obviously frustrating," Rodriguez said. "That was a situation that I could do some damage, and just couldn't get it done tonight."He's not the only slumping star. Curtis Granderson is 1 for 16 (.125) with nine Ks. Robinson Cano is 2 for 18 (.111) and hitless in his last 11 at-bats. Russell Martin is batting .214, Ichiro Suzuki .200 and Swisher .133."There's really good pitching," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "There's guys on the other side that are struggling, too. You're seeing some really good pitching in these four games."Girardi won't know until Friday whether his bullpen will include Chamberlain, who has had enough mound misfortunes to fill a horror film.He was just another normal hard-throwing young gun before Game 2 of the 2007 division series. Then midges swarmed him on the mound in Cleveland and, with those bugs all around, he threw a tying wild pitch in a game the Indians went on to win 2-1 in 11 innings for a 2-0 series lead.A torn elbow ligament sidelined him in June 2011, and he was close to his return during spring training when he dislocated his right ankle in a trampoline accident while playing with his son. He finally returned on Aug. 1 -- against the Orioles -- and developed back into a dependable part of the Yankees' bullpen.Wieters led off the 12th with a single to left field, and a large piece of his bat went twirling toward the mound and hit Chamberlain's surgically repaired pitching elbow. Chamberlain threw down his glove and bent over in pain.After he was checked out by trainer Steve Donahue, Chamberlain threw three test pitches and came out. The Yankees said his elbow was bruised and X-rays were negative."You kind of see how it feels tomorrow and go from there," Chamberlain said. "It's definitely not as stiff as it was when it first happened."After Hardy's double -- his first RBI of the series, Johnson pitched a 1-2-3 bottom half. No Yankees' comeback this time, not like in Game 3 when Raul Ibanez batted for A-Rod and hit a tying homer in the ninth and a winning home run in the 12th of a 3-2 win."We'll come out ready and go out there and we'll fight and try to make it happen," Ibanez said.This matchup could hardly be more even. New York and Baltimore have split 22 games this season, with the Yankees outscoring the Orioles 103-101. Over the two extra-inning games, the Orioles' threw 331 pitches to the Yankees' 327."The baseball gods let you up off the deck if you stay true to the game," Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said. "We've got a big challenge ahead of us tomorrow, but we have an opportunity."Hours earlier, Girardi wiped his eyes during a pregame moment of silence for his father, who died last weekend. Girardi didn't tell his players until the death became public Thursday, not wanting to distract them from the task at hand.Nate McLouth's fifth-inning home run was offset by Cano's RBI grounder in the sixth, and McLouth saved a run in the fifth with a leaping catch against the wall in left-center on Jayson Nix's drive with a man on.It stayed that way in a battle of the bullpens. Baltimore's allowed four hits in 7 1-3 scoreless innings, and the Yankees gave up a run and four hits over 6 1-3.New York wasted a fine outing by Phil Hughes, who allowed one run and four hits in 6 1-3 innings with eight strikeouts and three walks -- all leading off innings.New York had hoped to avoid this. The Yankees wanted to end this series in four games, allowing Sabathia to start the AL championship series opener Saturday night.Sabathia held off the Orioles in winning the opener 7-2, allowing two runs and eight hits in 8 2-3 innings. The Yankees need him to do it again just to advance to the ALCS for the first time since 2010. And if they do get there, Sabathia likely wouldn't start against until Game 4 on the road.Like everything with this year's Yankees, nothing comes easily."This is going to be awesome," said Swisher, who could be playing his final game in pinstripes. "It's almost inevitable there's going to be a Game 5. We're not stressing. We know what we have to do. This place is going to be rocking and rolling."
To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.
I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.
Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?
But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.
Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.
According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.
In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.
“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.
But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.
And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.
Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.
The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.
That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.
Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.
The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.
So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?
Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.
But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.
See how many wins you get then.
Draft night is over and done with and the Sacramento Kings filled plenty of holes in their roster for the 2017-18 season. They added a pair of young point guards and a small forward to help fill their two biggest roster needs. They also took a gamble on Duke’s Harry Giles with the 20th overall selection which adds depth in the post long term.
Step one of the summer calendar is done and now the focus shifts to free agency which begins July 1. The Kings have limited roster space, but truckloads of cap space to work with. The NBA has reduced their projected cap for the 2017-18 season to $99 million and the Kings are way below that figure. While the cap is more complicated than just a raw spreadsheet, here is a look at where the Kings currently stand.
2017-18 Salaries - $28.9 million
Projected Rookie Salaries - $9.7 million
Dead Money - $6.1 million
Total - $44.7
Sacramento opted out of both Anthony Tolliver’s $8 million contract ($2 million buyout) and Arron Afflalo’s $12.5 million ($1.5 buyout). They also waived Matt Barnes mid-season, stretching his salary for the 2017-18 season over the next three years ($2.1 million per season).
In addition to Tolliver, Afflalo and Barnes, Rudy Gay informed the team earlier this month that he opted out of his $14.3 million contract for this season and Langston Galloway walked away from a guaranteed $5.4 million to become an unrestricted free agent.
The Kings begin free agency roughly $54.3 million under the cap and after adding four rookies, they have just four standard NBA roster spots and two two-way contracts with the NBA’s G-League. They are also required to spend 90 percent of the $99 million, but they have the entire season to do so and they are allowed to redistribute any shortage back to their own players.
There is hope that European sharpshooter Bogdan Bogdanovic will join this team this summer as well. Although he hasn’t played in the league, his contract is not restricted by the rookie scale. Early projections have him making anywhere from $5-10 million per season with Sacramento.
If Bogdanovic signs for the upper end of his projection - $10 million - the Kings would still have upwards of $44 million to spend, but just three roster spots to work with.
The team still has deficiencies to fill with the roster. Sacramento has two rookie point guards, but no veteran to show them the ropes. Garrett Temple can play in a pinch, but he is better at both wing positions.
Sacramento added Justin Jackson at the small forward spot, but they have little depth behind him and he could use time to develop. Temple can eat some minutes at the position and both Malachi Richardson and Bogdanovic can likely steal time at the three as well. A starting level player is needed, but the market is thin at the position.
There is hope that Skal Labissiere is the answer at the power forward spot, but with Tolliver waived, the team needs more at the position. Willie Cauley-Stein can play in spot duty, but a veteran stretch four is needed.
In addition to position of need, the Kings need more talent and veteran leadership on the roster. Temple is the only player over 30. Big man Kosta Koufos is 28 and everyone else on the roster is 24 and under when the season opens in October.
Expect the Kings to be active on the open market. They also make an attractive trade partner with their ability to absorb contracts. It should be a wild couple of weeks in Sacramento as the Kings look to improve their roster.